MTS Board launches independent investigation into allegations against Fletcher
The Metropolitan Transit System board of directors on Thursday called for an independent investigation into sexual assault and harassment allegations made by a former MTS employee against former MTS board president Nathan Fletcher.
The decision by the MTS board came after a nearly two-hour meeting held behind closed doors. When they emerged, acting board chair Stephen Whitburn delivered a statement.
“We will begin the process of selecting the outside counsel and beginning the investigation immediately,” Whitburn said. “It is the board’s intent that the findings of the investigation will be made public.”
The investigation will center on allegations made by former MTS public relations specialist Grecia Figueroa. She contends Fletcher groped her on two occasions and pursued a sexual relationship with her for two months.
Figueroa was fired on the day Fletcher announced his candidacy for state Senate. Fletcher has admitted having what he called a consensual affair with Figueroa but has denied the assault and harassment allegations. Figueroa said it was not an affair but was simply sexual misconduct.
MTS had denied knowing anything about the situation until last week when Figueroa filed a lawsuit against Fletcher and MTS alleging sexual assault, harassment and retaliation.
A letter from Figueroa’s lawyers suggests otherwise. The letter dated Feb. 17, 2023, demands Figueroa’s employment records. It also mentions sexual harassment allegations and potential retaliation.
Whitburn insisted the board did not know about the allegations until the lawsuit was filed, raising the question of who at MTS knew and if they hid it from the board.
“We have as a board decided that we are going to hire an independent counsel to help us specifically to help us understand some of the questions that are being asked,” Whitburn said
Figueroa has alleged in her lawsuit that MTS board member Sean Elo-Rivera might have known what was going on with Fletcher. Elo-Rivera was unrestrained in his denial of that.
“I’m pissed and I’m disappointed,” Elo-Rivera said. “There’s a lot of feelings that I have, but I had no idea that any of that was going on.”
Whitburn would not say when the investigation will conclude and would only say that the investigation will be expeditious and thorough.
Fletcher announced his resignation from the Board of Supervisors, effective May 15, after the lawsuit was filed and resigned from the MTS board on April 4.
But some officials are calling for him to resign immediately.
San Diego City Councilmember Vivian Moreno on Thursday became the first elected Democrat to call for Fletcher’s immediate resignation from the Board of Supervisors.
In a statement posted on Twitter, she said that his misconduct revealed that “he is not fit to represent San Diegans for public office.”
Others have also called for his immediate resignation, notably Supervisor Jim Desmond, a Republican.
Supervisor Nora Vargas, who chairs the Board of Supervisors, has said that the board will discuss options for replacing Fletcher at its May 2 meeting.